How We Show Up At Work and Make Room for Difference

Tanenbaum Deputy CEO, Mark Fowler

Dear Friends,

I recently was profiled by Lower Manhattan HeadQuarters (LMHQ) in their monthly Q+A segment about all things Tanenbaum and all things me. As Deputy-CEO for Tanenbaum I am tasked with overseeing all of Tanenbaum’s program areas, along with fund development and communications. But the longest section of my early career began in public education and working with at-risk youth. I’m also an ordained interfaith/interspiritual minister and graduate of One Spirit Interfaith Seminary in New York City, a journey I embarked on while working at Tanenbaum.

These experiences and others, affect how I show up at work daily. Now that I’m in a position of leadership, I try to be very aware that we have to be willing to accommodate the whole person at work. My experiences continue to inform and help me work to create an environment where people feel cared for, respected, and a part of the team. A place where a person’s truth can be told.

I invite you to watch the full interview now and let us know what you think.

Mark Fowler
Deputy CEO, Tanenbaum

A different kind of “Ted Talk”

We are excited to share a new video of renowned workplace thought leader, Ted Childs, Principal of Ted Childs, LLC, sharing his thoughts on the necessity of Tanenbaum’s Workplace Program and proactively addressing religious diversity in the workplace.

According to Childs, religion is a critical business issue:
“The risk for companies who ignore the global issue of religion is loss of talent, loss of marketplace access.”Childs explains the business imperative of proactively addressing religious diversity and shares his own experiences of meeting the challenges of managing a diverse workforce.

The Season of Inclusion – Navigate the December Dilemma!

Dear Friends,

What does your office look like during this time of year? Are there Christmas trees and menorahs in the lobby, or are decorations strictly snowflake-themed? Are departments planning Christmas parties or perhaps a holiday potluck?

Whatever is taking place at your office, the December Dilemma is in full swing. Hanukkah starts on December 6th and Christmas is coming up too (many will celebrate on December 24th and 25th, and some will celebrate January 6th [Armenian Orthodox] and 7th [Eastern Orthodox]).

Whether your company acknowledges specific holidays or takes a more general approach to the season, awareness about the holidays taking place during this busy time of year is key.
Use Tanenbaum’s tip sheets on Christmas, Hanukkah, and the December Dilemma to navigate decorations, time off and scheduling, and holiday greetings. Let’s celebrate the season of inclusion!
In friendship,
Mark Fowler,
Managing Director of Programs

Rosh Hashanah & Yom Kippur 2014

ShofarByChajmGuski copyNext month, approximately five million people across the United States will celebrate the high holy days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Many will need accommodations at work or at school.

This year, Rosh Hashanah begins at sundown on Wednesday September 24 and ends at sundown on Friday September 26. Yom Kippur begins at sundown on Friday October 3and continues until sundown on Saturday October 4.

What happens, and what can you expect, during these holidays – both of which are often regarded as the most important of all Jewish holidays? What other Jewish holidays will take place this fall and how might they affect the workplace?

Click here to learn more from Tanenbaum’s Fact Sheet.

In addition, companies interested in addressing workplace diversity and inclusion can click here to learn more about the two exciting events that our new partner, DiversityInc, will be hosting this fall.

Questions? Email or call 212.967.7707.



Tanenbaum names 2014 Inaugural Corporate Leaders for Inclusion

Tanenbaum honors corporations for breaking new ground in workplace diversity by making their workplaces more accommodating for employees of all — and no — religious beliefs.

This week at our Annual Awards Gala, the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding announced its inaugural Corporate Leaders for Inclusion. CLI commends six corporations for breaking new ground in workplace diversity and inclusion.

“Nearly one in three Americans say that religious discrimination is a real problem in their workplaces,” said Joyce S. Dubensky, Tanenbaum CEO. “When employees report religious discrimination to a manager, one third say that their company did nothing. This is why it is so important to honor the companies that proactively combat workplace religious discrimination. At Tanenbaum, we want to recognize that this can mean breaking new ground to build a global workplace. And we applaud those who are taking the lead.”

The 2014 honorees are Bloomberg, Citi, DTCC, EmblemHealth, Korn Ferry and Walmart.

The invitation-only honor recognizes leaders among their peers: companies at the cutting edge of making their workplaces more accommodating for employees of all —or no — religious beliefs.

“All corporate leaders should be inclusive,” Dubensky added. “Each of our honorees have demonstrated that they have — among other things — made daily life more inclusive for religious and non-believing employees. They’re building a track record and getting proactive about ending religious discrimination in their workplaces. I, for one, am grateful.”

In recognition of these outstanding companies, Tanenbaum named the 2014 Class of Corporate Leaders for Inclusion in the New York Times on June 4, 2014, page A5 (see advertisement).




Controversy at the 9/11 museum: Top 5 news stories

Last week’s top news, from our perspective:

Film at 9/11 Museum Sets Off Clash Over Reference to IslamAngry Muslims in Central African Republic call for partition • Army approves ‘humanist’ as religious preferenceBusiness Window Stickers Protest Mississippi Law • British PM accused of fueling division with Christian talk


Image credit: Flickr user kbrinker

Film at 9/11 Museum Sets Off Clash Over Reference to Islam

Past the towering tridents that survived the World Trade Center collapse, adjacent to a gallery with photographs of the 19 hijackers, a brief film at the soon-to-open National September 11 Memorial Museum will seek to explain to visitors the historical roots of the attacks.

The film, “The Rise of Al Qaeda,” refers to the terrorists as Islamists who viewed their mission as a jihad. The NBC News anchor Brian Williams, who narrates the film, speaks over images of terrorist training camps and Qaeda attacks spanning decades. Interspersed are explanations of the ideology of the terrorists, from video clips in foreign-accented English translations.

The documentary is not even seven minutes long, the exhibit just a small part of the museum. But it has over the last few weeks suddenly become a flash point in what has long been one of the most highly charged issues at the museum: how it should talk about Islam and Muslims.

Angry Muslims in Central African Republic call for partition

In this dusty town at the heart of the Central African Republic, many angry Muslims advocate a simple solution to the threat of religious violence from Christian militias terrorising the country’s south: partition.

Bambari lies near the dividing line separating Central African Republic’s Christian south – where mobs have lynched hundreds of Muslims and torn down their homes – from a northern region controlled by the mostly Muslim Seleka rebels.

Seleka seized power last year, saying they had been excluded by southern tribes from the country’s oil, gold and diamond wealth. But their 10 months in power – a murderous orgy of looting and extortion – sparked a sectarian backlash that is driving Muslims from the south despite the presence of French and African Union peacekeepers.

Army approves ‘humanist’ as religious preference

Lt. Col. Sunset R. Belinsky, an Army spokeswoman, said Tuesday (April 22) that the “preference code for humanist” became effective April 12 for all members of the Army.

In practical terms, the change means that humanists could face fewer hurdles in trying to organize within the ranks; military brass would have better information to aid in planning a deceased soldier’s funeral; and it could lay the groundwork for eventually adding humanist chaplains.

The change comes against a backdrop of persistent claims from atheists and other nonbelievers that the military is dominated by a Christian culture that is often hostile to unbelief. In recent years, activists from the broad spectrum of freethinking organizations have demanded equal treatment as the tradition-bound military grapples with the growth of the spiritual-but-not-religious population.

Business Window Stickers Protest Mississippi Law

In conservative Mississippi, some business owners who support equal treatment for gays and lesbians are pushing back against a new law that bans government from limiting the free practice of religion.

Critics fear the vaguely written law, which takes effect July 1, will prompt authorities to look away from anti-gay actions that are carried out in the name of religious beliefs — for example, photographers refusing to take pictures for same-sex couples because they believe homosexuality is a sin.

Hundreds of businesses, from hair salons to bakeries and art galleries, have started displaying round blue window stickers that declare: “We don’t discriminate. If you’re buying, we’re selling.”

British PM accused of fueling division with Christian talk

A group of scientists, academics and prominent writers accused British Prime Minister David Cameron on Monday of stoking sectarian divisions through his repeated description of Britain as a “Christian country”.

The public figures, including authors Philip Pullman and Terry Pratchett, said they respected the Conservative leader’s own religious beliefs, which he has addressed in a series of statements.

But they took issue with his characterization of Britain saying, in a letter to the Daily Telegraph, the country was actually a “plural society” of largely “non-religious” people.

Spiking religious tensions worldwide: Top 5 news stories

Why religious tensions are spiking around the globeBritish Muslims with diabetes need more healthcare support during RamadanACLU accuses La. school of religious harassment • Eastside Catholic president resigns amid uproar over firingSikhs Fight Back Against New Pentagon Dress Code


Last week’s top news, from our perspective:
Why religious tensions are spiking around the globe

Global religious hostilities, including government restrictions on how individuals can practice their faith and conflicts between communities of different faiths, reached a six-year high in 2012, according to the Pew Research Center.

One-third of the 198 countries and territories included in the study, released this week, had a high level of religious restrictions, with an even greater share affected by religiously-based social hostilities that included verbal abuse, overt hate crimes, and murder.

“This is the first time that this study has found that social hostilities involving religion affect a larger share of the world’s population than government restriction on religious freedom,” says Brian Grim, the principal investigator for all five studies.


British Muslims with diabetes need more healthcare support during Ramadan

British Muslims with diabetes may avoid attending GP surgeries to discuss fasting during the holy month of Ramadan – with potentially serious consequences for their future health, new research by the universities of Manchester and Keele shows.

The first study in the UK to explore the beliefs which influence the experience and practices of British Muslims’ diabetes management found tensions often exist between observing the important religious ritual in accordance with their faith and the competing need to manage their health.


ACLU accuses La. school of religious harassment

The American Civil Liberties Union is suing a school board in Louisiana, alleging officials at one of its schools harassed a sixth-grader because of his Buddhist faith and that the district routinely pushes Christian beliefs.

The lawsuit was filed against the Sabine Parish School Board Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Shreveport on behalf of Scott and Sharon Lane and their three children. According to the complaint from the ACLU and its Louisiana chapter, the Lanes enrolled their son — a lifelong Buddhist of Thai descent — in Negreet High School and he quickly became the target of harassment by the school’s staff.


Eastside Catholic president resigns amid uproar over firing

The president and CEO of Eastside Catholic School has resigned amid unrelenting protests over her decision to dismiss the school’s vice principal for marrying his gay partner.

In December, Sister Mary Tracy fired Vice Principal Mark Zmuda, who also served as the school’s swim coach, saying his marriage to a man violated the Roman Catholic teachings he’d agreed to uphold when he began working at the school.


Sikhs Fight Back Against New Pentagon Dress Code

American Sikh leaders, disappointed that new Pentagon dress code requirements released on Wednesday do not go as far as the Sikhs would like, are turning to Congress to increase the pressure on the military.

The Sikhs, who want looser restrictions on turbans, head scarfs and beards in the military, are collecting signatures on a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel from congressional leaders asking the army to “modernize their appearance regulations so that patriotic Sikh Americans can serve the country they love while abiding by their articles of faith.”

What is the truth about the number of Christian martyrs? Top 5 news stories

Have 100,000 Christians died as martyrs? • Swastikas, Slurs and Torment in Town’s Schools • Woman Turned Away From Blood Center Because She Won’t Remove Hijab • Jewish man awarded $900G over Nazi gas chamber ‘jokes’ • Praying Bus Driver Fired For Religion On School Bus

Last week’s top news, from our perspective (on Tuesday because we were closed for Veteran’s Day yesterday):

Have 100,000 Christians died as martyrs?

Is there a global war on Christians? It is claimed that an average of 100,000 Christians have died because of their faith every year for the past decade – and that this is an ‘unreported catastrophe’.

The Vatican has called it a credible number. But is it?

Ruth Alexander and Wesley Stephenson fact-check the widely-quoted statistic.

Swastikas, Slurs and Torment in Town’s Schools

The swastikas, the students recalled, seemed to be everywhere: on walls, desks, lockers, textbooks, computer screens, a playground slide — even on a student’s face.

A picture of President Obama, with a swastika drawn on his forehead, remained on the wall of an eighth-grade social studies classroom for about a month after a student informed her teacher, the student said.

For some Jewish students in the Pine Bush Central School District in New York State, attending public school has been nothing short of a nightmare.

Woman Turned Away From Blood Center Because She Won’t Remove Hijab

Memphis mother Keajuana Allen said she gives blood regularly at Tennessee Blood Services at 807 Poplar, but she was turned away Wednesday.

“She told me I had to remove my scarf and I told her, ‘Well you know I can’t.’ I said, ‘Why today, do I have to remove my scarf?’ I said, ‘Due to religious purposes, I am not to be uncovered,’” said Allen after she was asked to remove her hijab before giving blood Wednesday.

Jewish man awarded $900G over Nazi gas chamber ‘jokes’

A delivery man for the midtown (Manhattan) restaurant Mangia 57 has won a $900,000 jury verdict, payback for the anti-Semitic harassment heaped upon him by three supervisors at the eatery.

Nightshift manager Artur Zbozien often “passed gas” in front of Wiercinski, and would then joke that the gas was Zyklon B, the poison used in Nazi gas chambers during the Holocaust, according to the Brooklyn federal court lawsuit.

Praying Bus Driver Fired For Religion On School Bus

School bus driver George Nathaniel III was fired last week for inviting the children on his routes to pray with him each morning, despite being repeatedly asked by his company to stop, reports CBS Local.

The school district of Burnsville, Minnesota complained to his employers, Durham School Services, who proceeded to give Nathaniel a warning and assign him two new bus routes serving Edward D. Neill Elementary School and Metcalf Junior High School. However, Nathaniel refused to comply with their direction and said, “I let them know I am a pastor and I am going to pray,” reports the Star Tribune.

Car bombs and crisis in Iraq: Top 5 news stories

Car bombs kill scores in Baghdad, in sign of crisis in Iraq • Muslim Boy Called ‘Terrorist,’ Booted From Bus After Reciting Arabic Prayer: Lawsuit • Of Gods and Cubicles: Religion, the Office and the Law • Supreme Court to consider religious prayer at government meetings • Dozens of Saudi Arabian women drive cars on day of protest against ban

Last week’s top news, from our perspective:
Car bombs kill scores in Baghdad, in sign of crisis in Iraq

Nearly two years after the U.S. troop withdrawal, Iraq is in the midst of a deepening security crisis as an al-Qaeda affiliate wages a relentless campaign of attacks, sending the death toll soaring to its highest level since 2008.

In the latest violence, nine car bombs tore through markets and police checkpoints in Baghdad on Sunday, killing dozens of people.

The bloody campaign has virtually erased the security gains made in the past five years. More than 5,300 Iraqis have been killed this year.

A Muslim boy was reportedly called a “terrorist” and was booted from a bus in New York City after the driver overheard him reciting an Arabic prayer.

The incident happened back in October 2012 when the 10-year-old boy was getting on the B-39 bus on his way home from school in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, the New York Post reported. While attempting to board, the boy is said to have become flustered when he couldn’t find his MetroCard and said a prayer in Arabic — “I start in the name of God, the most merciful, the most beneficent” — to help him find it.

Although he eventually located the card, the bus driver allegedly called him a “terrorist” and forced him off the bus before closing the doors.

Of Gods and Cubicles: Religion, the Office and the Law

An evangelical Christian opposes biometric hand-scanning at his mine where he works, citing a Bible passage about hand marks given by the antichrist; two Muslim truck drivers objects to delivering alcohol. What do these people have in common?

They filed recent religious-discrimination complaints to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, part of a rising tide of such grievances over the last several years, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday

The EEOC received 3,811 religion-based complaints, known as charges, in fiscal 2012, the second-highest level ever and just below the record of 4,151 in 2011.

Supreme Court to consider religious prayer at government meetings

In a case that could determine restrictions on expressions of faith in the public square, the Supreme Court on Wednesday (Nov. 6) will consider religious prayers that convene government meetings.

At issue in Greece v. Galloway is whether such invocations pass constitutional muster, even when government officials are not purposefully proselytizing or discriminating.

Dozens of Saudi Arabian women drive cars on day of protest against ban

More than 60 Saudi women got behind the wheels of their cars as part of a protest against a ban on women driving in the kingdom, activists have claimed.

A Saudi professor and campaigner, Aziza Youssef, said the activists have received 13 videos and another 50 phone messages from women showing or claiming they had driven, the Associated Press reported.

Despite warnings by police and ultraconservatives in Saudi Arabia, there have been no reports from those who claimed to have driven of being arrested or ticketed by police.

Bullied for not believing in God: Top 5 News Stories

Bullied for Not Believing in God • Where Religious Leaders Stand On A Military Strike On SyriaQuebec reveals religious symbols to be banned from public sector Judge Says Abercrombie Discriminated When It Fired Hijab-Wearing Employee Woman In Sudan Refuses To Wear Hijab, Faces Flogging

Last week's top news, from our perspective:

Bullied for Not Believing in God

Despite secularism and atheism being on the rise, some areligious students feel discriminated against—at times violently. Now teachers across the U.S. are creating Secular Safe Zones to "curtail anti-atheist bullying, discrimination, and social isolation." (Photo by Thomas Ricker, via Flickr Creative Commons)

Where Religious Leaders Stand On A Military Strike On Syria

In recent weeks, religious leaders have added their voices to the Syrian debate. Some American religious leaders have been clear in their condemnation of the proposed use of force, others have come out in support of a military intervention and some have been hesitant to weigh in on how best to respond to Bashar Assad's alleged use of chemical weapons.

Huffington Post has collected a list of religious groups that have made statements on the proposed Syrian strikes.

Quebec reveals religious symbols to be banned from public sector

The Parti Québécois government is leading Quebec into a wrenching debate over faith and the future place of minorities in the province by unveiling a charter of values that would ban Muslim headscarves, Sikh turbans, Jewish kippas and other “overt” religious symbols from the public service.

Judge Says Abercrombie Discriminated When It Fired Hijab-Wearing Employee

Abercrombie & Fitch Co. (ANF) violated equal-employment laws when it fired a Muslim employee for wearing a religious head scarf, a federal judge in California found. Umme-Hani Khan, who was 19-years-old at the time, was fired from the teen-retailer's Hollister store in San Mateo, Calif. in Feb. 2010 after refusing to take off her hijab, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Ms. Khan, who worked primarily in the company's stockroom from Oct. 2009, complied with her employer's request to wear head scarves in Hollister colors. But she was later told that the hijab violated the company's "Look Policy"–or dress code.

Woman In Sudan Refuses To Wear Hijab, Faces Flogging

mira Osman Hamed, a Sudanese woman, will be tried on Sept. 19 for refusing to cover her hair with a hijab, a headscarf worn by Muslim women. If convicted, the 35-year-old could be punished by flogging, according to the Agence France-Presse.

After being detained by police for refusing to wear a hijab on Aug. 27, she says she is willing to face the flogging in order to protest the law that requires her to cover her hair.